Keynote Speaker: Dr. Keith Folse

Why English is So Difficult for Students to Learn and Teachers to Teach

Many people do not really appreciate the difficult task that our ESL students face in trying to learn English. While every language presents some interesting challenges for its learners, English is not an easy language. In today’s talk, we will look at areas of English that come naturally to native speakers but that represent major hurdles for non-native speakers. The goal of today’s talk is for all of us to be able to appreciate the linguistic plight that our English language learners face every day in our classes. By understanding the linguistic challenges our students face, we are better able to advocate for them in our programs.


Dr. Keith Folse is Professor of TESOL at the University of Central Florida, where he teaches in the MA, PhD, and undergraduate certificate programs. He was originally a certified secondary Language Arts teacher and has taught in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait, and Japan.

In his eighteen years at UCF, he has won many teaching and research awards, including UCF Graduate Professor of the Year, TESOL’s Teacher of the Year, and International TESOL’S 50@50 Award. He is the author of more than 60 teacher reference and student textbooks, and has published articles on language teaching as well as research articles on second language acquisition topics, most notably vocabulary and grammatical development. He has made presentations across the United States, all over Latin America – from Argentina to Mexico, in the Middle East from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, and in Asia from Uzbekistan to Japan.

Among Dr. Folse’s most popular publications are Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners: A Practical HandbookThe Art of Teaching Speakingand Vocabulary Myths, all by the University of Michigan Press. He is very interested in ESL grammar problems for ESL learners and classroom teachers, as evidenced in his forthcoming book The Grammar Answer Key: Short Explanations to 100 ESL Questions (University of Michigan Press).